Editor’s note: This post was originally published here on the 19th April, 2016. It has been re-uploaded to Hardly Hamilton so that all of my posts are in one place.
Written by Josh Hamilton
“It was a long, difficult road. Thank God we finally got here.”
Lilly’s spoke some wise words in that final episode: it took nine seasons, and we finally got to see where Ted Evelyn Mosby would end up – and who he would end up with. But was the finale worth the wait? Or did HIMYM leave the audience waiting at the altar?
I want to preface this with the fact that How I met Your Mother has a special place in my heart. It’s guided me through my own life for the past few years, and I’ve lived by some of the advice that it’s offered.
The struggles that Ted, Barney, Marshall, Lilly and Robin all went through were so easy to relate to. The death of Marshall’s father in particular was a poignant moment, and Barney’s decision to break up with Nora so that he could be with Robin – only to have his heart broken – was incredibly emotional.
Yet at the same time, the show had its comical moments. There were times when I laughed so hard, I fell out of my chair. One of the reasons I was so excited for Thursday to come around every week during the autumn was because E4 chose aired new episodes on that day. I’d never been so excited for any show before in my life. It was pure, unadulterated entertainment.
That said, the ending didn’t work. You might think it did – but it really, really didn’t. Here’s three ways the writers should have ended How I Met Your Mother:
Want a summary of season nine of the show? We spent 22 episodes on Barney and Robin’s wedding, making clear to the audience that, while they both might be damaged individuals, they could ultimately make a marriage work. And then they got divorced. Two episodes later, and Ted’s declaring his love for Robin again. If that isn’t a rush, I don’t know what is.
What should season nine have been?
Take the traditional format of two episodes for a wedding – maybe three, if the writers really felt that they had enough material to use for this event – and then change it up for the rest of the season. Following the wedding, the show could have featured a time jump, spanning across the seventeen years that were left untold.
This would have allowed the audience to grasp firmly why Barney and Robin as a married couple would never work out. Equally, we’d witness Tracey become ill, and would feel greater sympathy for Ted’s situation in the lead-up to her death. As loveable as Tracey is, at the end of the day she is just a character that we have to believe is special, based on the limited footage available of her.
Not only that, but we’d understand why Ted fell in love with Robin again, as she clearly helped him through Tracey’s death. Instead of this, all the audience received was a little bit of exposition, telling us that she had always been there for Ted, and that their love for one another was “so obvious” when they were together. Of course we’d also see Marshall’s struggle towards becoming Judge Fudge, but that’s besides the point. I’m more interested in seeing the more natural progression of love in all these characters’ relationships.
For the love of God, don’t rush your sitcoms, people.
Who is Barney Stinson?
And then married, committed adult.
And then womaniser. Playboy.
Who really is Barney Stinson? The writers put him through this great amount of character development that would lead to him becoming a new man, arguably kick-started in season five with his relationship with Robin.
He was suddenly ready to love. And then they took that away from him. I will give credit where credit is due. I like what they did with his progression to an extent. He tried to have a relationship with Robin, but failed. Nora was similar to Robin, but perhaps showed more aspects of normality – and of course that was doomed to failure. Then came along Quinn, and at this point Barney thought he was ready to wed a stripper – not just bed one.
This caused his old personality – the one obsessed with over 200 one night stands – conflicted with his new personality: one who was ready to settle down. When he realised that he couldn’t live like this, he found love in Robin again, who he knew for sure was the only girl for him. They were just as damaged as one another. After his marriage ends in failure, Barney goes back to being his same-old self. While that was certainly entertaining for the series finale, it was a complete 180-degree turn on all of the character development that he had been blessed with for the previous four seasons.
What I’d suggest changing in regards to this relates to my first problem with the ending: it was rushed. Had season nine been stretched into what I suggested, we could have seen Barney’s fall from the married man, back to his bachelor status. I’d imagine this would have looked similar to the first time he and Robin broke up, where Barney used The Playbook to sleep with as many women as possible. This time, however, after going home with several women, he would suffer a breakdown, claiming that he no longer knew what he wanted. That he couldn’t be satisfied with either the married or the single life. At this point, I can see him using a new play to snare another girl to “just get over himself.” It’s this girl that would turn out to be the mother of his child, as introduced in the finale. I really loved what they did with that, as it showed that the only woman Barney could truly love was his own child. And it would be the birth of his child that stops him from sleeping around.
That’s Barney’s character rounded off effectively before the series climaxed.
Tracey or Robin?
It has to be said: I prefer Tracey. She is the perfect woman for Ted: in a band, sings to her food, plays the ukulele, wants two kids – a boy and a girl – and is seeking the same things as him. The show is called How I Met Your Mother for a reason: it’s her story. Bob Saget spent nine seasons building her up to us as this most amazing human. He told us exactly why we should love her, and then we did, when they fully introduced us to her in all her glory in the episode “How Your Mother Met Me.” On top of that, she’s my ideal woman. Not only is Cristin Milioti is gorgeous, but the character she plays IS the perfect woman. Just look at her, and everything she does! Ted was meant to end up with her.
With that in mind, I’ll admit defeat: Ted was right to end up with Robin. Throughout the entire series, there had always been hints that it was always her that he was chasing. The first episode begins, after all, with him meeting – and falling in love with – Robin, after all! The series is simply about how he met his wife, not necessarily the love story that occurred after this meeting. The writers also acknowledged that they wanted the show to be more realistic, in the sense that love doesn’t end after meeting The One. Had Ted ended up with Tracey, and Robin ended up with Barney, as in the Alternate Ending, this likely would have been criticised for being too clichéd. Everything was just a little too perfect.
Having Ted suffer through the death of his wife – yet still persevering to find love in the end – is exactly what embodies his character. The mirroring of Ted, standing below Robin’s window with the Blue French Horn (read: Smurf penis), at both the start and end of the series, was a nice piece of artistic use of mise en scène. It shows that, regardless of the struggles he endures, he will always remain true to himself. While that is lovely, and I do ultimately agree with the ending (although I did struggle with accepting it for a while there), it is still all about a timing issue. The pace of season nine could and should have been far better.
Really what I’m trying to say is: season nine ruined the show for me. Yet somehow, I’m still going back on Netflix every day to carry on binging it. Because that’s who I am – and no amount of tragedy will ever change my character, like how it never changed Ted.